The purpose of the asset tracking system is to improve workflows, reduce inventory loss, and introduce process optimization to improve overall operational efficiency and productivity. In any asset tracking system, the real-time location information of steady/moving asset is sent to cloud via gateway/router over a secure communication channel. The article describes key considerations to implement accurate & low-cost asset tracking solution that best fit your industry requirements. This article is divided into two parts, first will give you the overview of the IoT based Asset Tracking Solution, High-level Architecture of the system, Important system component information, and Costing drivers to design system. The second article will give you the complete details of different types of protocol compressions and widely popular industry applications.
Advantage of IoT Based Asset Tracking
Contrary to an age-old & passive asset tracking system, IoT based asset tracking is a smart, efficient and intelligent system IoT-enabled asset tracking solutions utilize IoT sensors-to remotely track application-specific details of the asset without any human intervention. These IoT sensors can be attached to assets along with the conventional tracking tags (e.g. QR codes, RFID Tag, Barcode). Depending on the industry needs, there can be multiple use cases based on IoT solution while considering the criticalness of the asset with respect to the overall solution cost. Traditional passive solutions are simple, low-cost and easy to implement. However, the costly and premium IoT enabled solutions are largely getting popular day by day in different industries.
Advantages of IoT Enabled Asset Tracking System:
- Automation of the tracking process
- Real-time information
- Live inventory management
- Environmental and usage information
- Automated reminders and alerts
- Accurate device location
- Ensure regulatory compliance
- Quick asset Audits
Key components of Asset Tracking Solution:
are five major components Tags, Reader/Hub, Gateway, Cloud, and Mobile App that
cover the entire solution as explained in the following section. Selection of
each component will make a differentiate the solution, depending on the
1. Tag: The tags are the most important
unit identity for all the assets,
which supports the wireless communication protocol to communicate with a reader
for tagged information. The tags can be RFID, Barcode, Zigbee, Z-wave, thread,
BLE/Bluetooth 5.1 supporting Angle of Arrival (AOA) and Angle of Departure
(AoD) both active and passive nature.
Reader/Hub: This is a device
that detects the tags available in the specific area and sends the same data to
the Gateway or to the cloud acting as an aggregator of the data in that region.
Nowadays some of the readers are capable enough to send the tag’s data directly
to the cloud without the help of the gateway. Different reader’s types are –
Passive Reader, Active Tag (PRAT), Active Reader Passive Tag (ARPT), and Active
Reader Active Tag (ARAT).
3. Smart Gateway: The gateway is the heart
of the system. Hence, it is smart enough to do multiple operations like
maintaining the connectivity with the IoT Cloud-sending the tag’s data to the
cloud real-time, saving the tag’s status/information when the internet
connection is not available, analyze tag’s information and work smartly to save
the battery. Gateway adds tremendous value in the system by local computational
capabilities in many of the use cases. The gateway should broadly support one
or more of the following operating systems like VxWorks, AWS FreeRTOS, Zephyr,
uC/OS and Linux for further application development.
4. IOT cloud: The IOT cloud is the main
interface of the system from where we can get all the inventory status in real-
time. The cloud is capable to do business analysis with the help of the
predefined logic with possible AI & ML and represent the data further in a
structured form. More than one clouds can be used for multiple services like
data analysis, real-time data monitoring, gateway monitoring, etc. The cloud
requires to support the HTTPS, MQTT, CoAP, etc. largely popular protocols to
communicate with the gateway/devices.
Mobile Application: The Mobile app is one of the main components of the
solution depending upon the type of solution or application. The mobile app can
be very effective in guiding the direction, data display, quick information
regarding any asset under surveillance, notification/alert for any critical
Major Cost Drivers: Tags Cost Vs Infrastructure Cost
optimum Asset Tracking Solution is also a big challenge. It completely depends
on the kind of Asset we are trying to track and what level of advantage we
would want to get by setting up these solutions. There are two major cost
drivers, number of tags and infrastructure setup cost. More sophisticated tags
are higher in cost but definitely needs less costly infrastructure. On the
other hand, the simple low-cost tags would need a very sophisticated
infrastructure having a higher cost.
Important Note: All information
provided in the above article is based on individual knowledge with his
experience with the technology or research work is done based on the
information available on different reference website such as Wikipedia,
Z-Wave Alliance, Zigbee® Alliance, etc.